Meghalaya Legislative Assembly

March 11, 1987

Address by Shri. Bhishma Narain Singh Governor of Meghalaya


        It gives me great pleasure to address you once again on the First Session of this august House in 1987.

        2. The Hon'ble Members are aware that the State has been by and large peaceful. This goes to the credit of the people and their leaders who realise that the country today, more than at any other time, needs peace and tranquility for its progress. This State has been comparatively free from any acts of terrorism, unrest or agitation. The Government are committed that genuine grievances of the people are promptly attended to and at the same time vigilance is maintained so that no undesirable activity takes place which may threaten the security of the country or disrupt public order.

        3. I am proud that Meghalaya was able to host successfully the International Ministerial meeting of the South Asia Association of Regional Co-operation on "Women in Development" in May, 1986. As a result of this meet Shillong, our capital city, has been brought on the map of International conferences.

        4. The Government of India and, in fact the entire nation, are committed to safeguard the rights and interests of the Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Castes and the other weaker sections. Within the Constitutional framework the State Government are very keen to protect the interests of the indigenous tribal people of the State. Through our initiatives the Constitution (51st Amendment) Act, 1984 was passed by Parliament to restore reservation of seats for Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assembly as well as in Parliament. A separate law has to be enacted by Parliament to decide the seats to be so reserved. State Government are pursuing this matter vigorously with the Centre.

        Government will take more effective steps, including appropriate follow-up measures, to preserve and promote the distinct identity of the indigenous people of the State and their cultural heritage.

        5. The State's borders are under constant and strict watch to prevent infiltration of foreign nationals. The Border Wing of the State Home Guards is serving with the Border Security Force to prevent infiltration from neighbouring countries. Strength of the Border Security Force in our State is being augmented. The construction of a road along the international border is being taken up. Erection of a barbed wire fencing in vulnerable sectors of the border is under consideration.

        6. The work of the Assam and Meghalaya Boundary Committee to study and interpret the Constitutional boundary between the two States is in progress and is likely to be completed in the two States is in progress and is likely to be completed in the early part of the next financial year. The Government are committed to safeguard the interests of the people of the State in regard to various issues relating to the inter-State boundary and to find an amicable solution through discussions.

        7. The crime situation in the State is under control. Within the limited resources the Government are trying to increase the operational efficiency of the Police Force.

        A Forensic Science Laboratory has been set up and will be strengthened in the coming years. The mobility of the Police Force has also been increased. To fight fire hazards Fire Stations at all District headquarters have now been set up. Establishment of Sub-fire Stations at the Sub-divisional headquarters and some other identified vulnerable centres will be completed by 1987-88.

        A Computer cell has started functioning during the current year to undertake the process of computerising the statistics on crime and criminal records. The communication net work of the Police will be further strengthened.

        Training facilities are being modernised and our officers and staff are being sent on specialised courses.

        Provision of housing facilities for the police men is receiving the active attention of the Government.

        8. The size of the State's Annual Plan for 1987-88 has been fixed at Rs.110 crores, an increase of 21 percent over that of the current year. Efforts will continue to be taken to develop the required infrastructure to bring about growth in the rural economy and to provide basic amenities to the people at a faster pace. The Planning machinery has been restructured. District Planning and Development Councils have been set up in the Districts with a Cabinet Minister as Chairman and people's representatives, besides other District Officers, as members. A Department of Programme Implementation has been set up to review and monitor implementation of various schemes. A bureau of public enterprise is being organised in the Department.

        The revised 20-Point programme gives a greater thrust on poverty alleviation. It has been modified on the basis of our achievements and experience and also in the light of the objectives of the Seventh Plan. Steps are being taken by the various departments of the Government for commencing implementation of the programme in the coming financial year.

        9. Jhum cultivation and excessive deforestation continue to pose a serious problem. Measure to provide alternative occupation to the jhummias and for their permanent settlement without causing serious dislocation to them will be continued more vigorously through the programme of soil conservation, plantation development and watershed management. Public awareness and constructive co-operation through mass education are necessary to control this destructive practice.

        10. Afforestation programme is being implemented with renewed vigour. An areas of 5,400 hectares has been brought under plantation as against the target of 4,000 hectares in 1986-87 and an area of over 12,000 hectares will be covered under plantation schemes in 1987-88. A National Park at Balpakram, with a core area of 220 sq.kms has been established and an area of about 50 sq.kms has been acquired for Nokrek National Park.

        Large scale unregulated exploitation of forests in the State is causing concern to the State Government . Measures have, therefore, to be taken to remedy the situation in co-operation with the District Councils and the public. Ways and means are being found out in consultation with experts to reduce depredation by wild animals.

        11. The food grain production during the year suffered a set back due to drought in the early part of the year followed by floods and untimely rainfall during the flowering stage of kharif crops. Government are making all efforts to achieve the targeted production of 2.12 lakh tonnes during 1987-88 by providing irrigation facilities and agricultural inputs. In addition to existing crops, cultivation of pulses, so long a minor crop in the State, will be encouraged through demonstration and minikit programmes. Distribution of fertilizers and pesticides at subsidised rates will be continued. With an additional area of 1,800 hectares brought under assured irrigation during the current year, the total area under irrigated cultivation will be about 39,000 hectares.

        12. Steps will continue to be taken to provide infrastructural facilities to promote breeding of live-stock. Programmes for poultry and piggery development and the centrally sponsored schemes on animal husbandry are progressing. The Special Live-stock Production Programme is being reintroduced from the current year. Dairy development programmes of procurement, scientific processing and distribution of quality milk to consumers and also to provide additional income to the farmers will be further strengthened. Owing to various difficulties the Central Dairy at Mawiong could not be commissioned as per earlier schedule, but is expected to become functional very soon.

        13. Integrated Rural Development, National Rural Employment and Rural Landless Employment Guarantee Programmes will be given greater emphasis as a step to alleviate rural poverty. It has been decided to strengthen the grass root administrative infrastructure to accelerate implementation of these programmes. With assistance from the Central Government steps are being taken to establish a State Centre for Research and Training in Rural Development. The centre will impart training to block level officers and village level workers.

        Government are also implementing the Indira Awass Yojana under which the poorest of the poor and houseless families of the Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes are provided with semi-permanent houses constructed at a cost of Rs.10,800 per unit, the entire expenditure for which is funded by the Central Government. Three hundred and sixty such units have been taken up for construction and allotment to eligible families. Many of these units will be completed and allotted very soon. The scheme is being taken up on a larger scale during 1987-88.

        14. Co-operative movement in the State is showing a steady progress. To help the movement become more effective training programmes and other promotional measures are being taken up. Sustained efforts are also being made to increase the flow of agriculture credit. Emphasis will be given to increase marketing of agriculture and forest produce and sale of consumer articles in rural and urban areas through the Co-operative agencies. An intensive development programme of certain selected co-operative societies has been launched recently and a scheme for integrated development of co-operatives societies connected with agriculture and allied activities in the East Khasi Hills District will be taken up in the coming year with the assistance and guidance of the National Co-operative Development Corporation.

        15. In order to provide financial support to farmers in the event of crops failure resulting from natural calamities preparation is under way to introduce the Crop Insurance Scheme from the next kharif season covering paddy, wheat and mustard.

        16. Efforts are being made to increase inland fish production. An understanding has been reached with the Garo Hills District Council for undertaking an intensive pisciculture programme in Tasek Lake. An NEC Scheme has been taken up during the year for the programme. Efforts are also being made to increase the production of fish seeds in the existing nurseries, as well as to introduce new varieties of fish which can survive in local conditions.

        17. As Hon'ble Members are aware the areas adjoining the international border are facing special problems ever since the partition of a Border Areas Development Programme has been under implementation for a number of years. Government will give a new direction to this programme in the coming year so that schemes specially relevant for these areas are taken up under this programme. These will be in addition to the normal developmental activities of the various departments in these areas.

        18. The 1985 National Education Policy will give anew direction in the field of education for the development of human resources, a factor which is a prerequisite to any real development. The universalisation of elementary education programme is the main thrust area in border to achieve the target of total enrolment among the 6 to 14 age group. Children numbering 15 thousand will be enrolled in addition, for full time courses during 1987-88 at the elementary school stage. For equalization of educational opportunities, primary school teachers are being provided to the villages on the relaxed population norm and 300 additional teachers will be appointed during 1987-88 and 452 primary school buildings will be constructed. Non-formal educational facilities are also being provided to the school drop-outs. A new curriculum on the national pattern is under preparation. Hostel facilities for selected Middle Schools to accommodate children from neighbouring non-viable small villages have been started with one hostel in each district. Navodaya Vidyalayas have been set up at Baghmara, Williamnagar and Niangbari during 1986-87 and two more will be established, one in Jaintia Hills and another in West Khasi Hills during 1987-88.

        Courses in computer application and electronics have been opened in Shillong Polytechnic. The adult education programme is being pursued vigorously to fulfill the national commitment of eradicating illiteracy. National Social Service coverage will be enlarged by enrolment of more college students. The Scouts and Guides activities will be further strengthened.

        19. Schemes have been initiated to promote the cultural tradition of our State. Cultural troupes participated in various festivals and projected our rich tribal culture which was widely appreciated.

        20. The administrative structure for effective implementation of Sports and Youth Welfare Programmes have been strengthened up to the District level. The Department has drawn up ambitious programme for development of mini stadia and standard playgrounds at the District and Sub-Divisional Headquarters. Promotion of sports activities have been pursued with more vigour by holding national meets in the State participating in the national championships and organising State level meets. It is a matter of pride for all of us that a young Khasi girl represented the country in the last Asiad held at Seoul. Five students have been awarded Sports Talent Search Scholarship.

        Construction of the Youth Hostel has been completed at Shillong and another has been sanctioned for Tura.

        21. As Hon'ble Members are aware the national goal is to achieve "health for all" by 2000 A.D. To achieve this, stress is being laid not only on curative but on preventive and promotive services as well. Primary Health Care is the key to the goal and will continue to be given the attention it needs. A Food and Drug Laboratory and an Orthopaedic Traumatology Centre at Shillong will be taken up shortly on receipt of sanctions from the North Eastern Council. Students will continue to be sent to Medical Colleges outside the State for graduate and post-graduate courses.

        The foundation stone for the North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences was laid by our Hon'ble Prime Minister, Shri. Rajiv Gandhi, on 6th May 1986 and a Society to manage the Institute has been registered under the Societies' Registration Act on 12th January, 1987.

        22. The long awaited Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme is nearing completion. Already it has been possible to make part supply of water from Mawphlang to some areas of Shillong. Importance is also being given to solving the problem of water supply in villages and efforts are being made to cover all such problem villages within the International Water Supply and Sanitation Decade programme for 1981 and 1991. Wherever technically feasible, exploitation of ground water has been undertaken in and outside Shillong. In the Annual Plan allocation for 1987-88, provision has been made for low cost sanitation. Implementation of the programme will be started first at Shillong, Tura and Jowai and in some selected villages.

        23. Assistance will continue to be provided to the people to construct residential houses under the Housing Scheme. More low cost houses will be constructed and allotted to the houseless on hire purchase basis. With the rest of the country, 1987 will be observed as the International Year of Shelter for the Homeless (IYSH) particularly by constructing night shelters at Shillong for transient visitors who cannot afford to stay in hotels.

        24. Welfare Schemes for children, women, the physically handicapped, the old and the infirm will continue to be implemented during the coming year also. The Centrally Government are assisting the programmes and the four additional Integrated Child Development Scheme Projects sanctioned in 1986-87 will be fully operational during 1987-88. The number of beneficiaries under the nutrition programmes is expected to increase from about 49,000 to 80,000 in 1987-88. The scheme to provide financial assistance for working women hostels will continue. To help the women and the physically handicapped in finding better markets for the cottage industry items produced by them, a sale-cum-show room will be set up in Shillong in the coming year.

        25. In the field of industries, the Government have given importance to the promotion of small and cottage industry sectors and in training craftsmen and artisans so that there is generation of self-employment in the fields of their aptitude.

        Implementation of the Tantalum Capacitors Project is progressing and the unit is expected to go into trial production at the end of 1987. Preliminary steps have been taken for setting up a Cement Project in Garo Hills. To meet the increasing demand for burnt lime, lime burning units in the small scale sector are being encouraged. Studies for setting up a Clay Washing Unit in the Garo Hills are still continuing.

        26. In order to impart training to the unemployed people in different trades, an industrial training institute has been set up at Jowai this year. A new trade on radio and T.V. repair has also been introduced in Industrial Training Institute, Shillong. Such an institute for women is expected to be set up next year at Shillong under a Central Sector Scheme.

        27. Sericulture and weaving, a cottage industry in the State, has provided part-time employment to about 32,000 people during 1986-87. Extension work in plantation to boost production  of better quality cocoons has been taken up during the year. During 1987-88, one mini Eri Seed Grainage and three Chowki Rearing centres will be set up. Modernisation of loom will also be taken up with matching contribution from the Central Government.

        28. Science and Technology Programmes are being emphasised and steps taken to develop technology based on local needs. The Science and Technology Cell has designed and developed technologies for drinking water such as low cost water-filters and rain water harvesting units. The Cell has also designed low cost sanitation units. Work has also been undertaken to popularise the use of these technologies in the rural areas. The response of the public for adoption of these technologies has been very encouraging.

        During 1986-87 nearly 3000 fuel-efficient chulhas designed and developed by the Cell are being installed. During 1987-88, 5000 such chulhas are expected to be installed.

        Under the Science popularization programme the Cell has set up Village Science and Information Clubs in rural areas. During 1987-88, 40 such clubs will be added.

        29. The Work on the 2 X 30 MW Umiam-Umtrew Stage IV and on the 132 KV Rongkhon Sub-station is in progress. Field investigation of the Myntdu (Leishka) Scheme has since been completed and a project report is under preparation. Investigation for mini hydel projects in Ganol and Nawaldare is in progress. The State Electricity Board has been assisted to the extent of Rs.353 lakhs for rural electrification programmes. An Energy Development Agency will be set up for identifying and meeting basic energy needs of the rural population. The Government of India have constituted a committee to go into the details in respect of Garo Hills Thermal Project.

        30. The Government are committed to expand the road network in the State with priority in linking the administrative headquarters and the agricultural producing areas with other parts of the State. The strategic needs will also be catered to. The Plan allocation under this sector has been substantially increased for the coming year.

        31. Certain parts of the State are prone to floods during monsoon. Protection works have, therefore, been taken in paddy fields and along the river banks and low lying areas.

        32. Besides private operators who are being encouraged, the Meghalaya Transport Corporation is now operating 39 routes covering a total distance of over four thousand kms. as against 29 routes with about two thousand kms. in 1976. The outlay for 1987-88 for this sector is Rs.217 lakhs for acquisition of more buses and equipments and creation of workshop facilities.

        Financial assistance to members of the Scheduled Tribes in transport business will be continued.

        Preliminary work for the Baljek airfield in Garo Hills is in progress.

        33. Government are anxious that postal and telecommunication services in the State are expanded. Guarantee has been given for sharing the expenditure in the form of non-refundable contribution for starting postal facilities in the interior. A 120-channel digital U.H.F. system linking Williamnagar and Tura has been sanctioned by the Central Government. A similar system has been proposed for Shillong-Nongstoin-Williamnagar. The existing 4000 line Telephone Exchange at Shillong will be expanded through provision of additional 1000 lines.

        34. There are several tourist development schemes under implementation which, on completion, will further encourage the tourist industry in the State. The Tourism Lodge at Tura will be opened in 1987. Work has commenced on construction of a 3-star hotel in Shillong. Orders for water sports equipments at Umiam are being placed during this year and the scheme will become operational within the next two years.

        35. Government continue to attach special importance to the role of District Councils and to give grants to enable them to run the administration effectively.

        36. While the Government will continue to render financial assistance to the Municipalities and the Town Committees of the District Councils, these bodies have to gear up their functioning to provide adequate civic amenities to the increasing population in the urban areas. For regulating planned growth and coordinating development of urban and other areas in the State, legislative measures have been initiated and constitution of statutory bodies will be taken up as soon as the law comes into force. A planning cell has been set up for the purpose of suggesting measures to arrest environmental degradation and implementation of the schemes for its protection and conservation. A Science and Technology and Environmental Council has also been set up to prepare policy framework and guidelines in this regard.

        37. In the field of printing technology, the process of modernisation as recommended by the Government of India will be taken up as soon as the multi-storeyed building, now under construction at Shillong, is completed.

        38. The entire State is covered through the public distribution system and more fair price shops have been opened in rural areas to ensure that even those in the far flung villages get their requirement of essential commodities under the Integrated Tribal development Programme. To protect the consumers' interest a State Level Consumers' Protection Council has been constituted by involving voluntary organisations.

        39. The Eighth Finance Commission recommended Rs.467.82 lakhs for construction of a model jail, including a jail for non-criminal lunatics at Shillong. The process of acquisition of land for the purpose will be completed within the current year. A more meaningful programme for prison reforms will be brought about on completion of the construction of jails at Shillong and other centres.

        40. Government have set up a Second Pay Commission to go into the emoluments and other conditions of service of the Government employees and recommend necessary changes. The case of the pensioners will also be kept in view by the Commission. The Commission has been requested to submit its report by July, 1987.

        41. Survey work for the purpose of preparation of land records in the State is in progress and though there have been difficulties in some areas, survey in 800 villages has so far been completed.

        42. In conclusion, I would like to reaffirm the commitment of the State Government to provide a good and efficient administration for the progress and welfare of the people. No efforts will be spared in promoting the economic and social interests of the tribal people and to preserve their cultural identity. At the same time the Government will strive its utmost to achieve economic and social justice for all sections of people in the State. These noble aims place a heavy responsibility on all those involved in the process of governance. I am sure that the Hon'ble Members will offer constructive co-operation for achievement of these goals for the welfare of the people of Meghalaya.

        I wish you all success in your deliberations.